Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Humane Officials Try to End China's 'Festival of Cruelty'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Humane Officials Try to End China's 'Festival of Cruelty'

Article excerpt

Hundreds of dogs are beginning new lives after their rescue from slaughter in China, but the work to end what critics call a "festival of cruelty" will continue.

In the autonomous region of Guangxi, the summer solstice on June 21 is marked with a controversial event in Yulin. Started in 2010, it involves the sale, butchering and consumption of thousands of dogs and cats.

"The 'festival' has no traditional or cultural background," said Kelly O'Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for Humane Society International, in an email exchange from her office in Gaithersburg, Md. "It was created by the vendors and traders of the dog-meat market to promote dog-meat consumption."

Defenders say the factory farming and slaughter of cattle, chickens and hogs in the West is no different.

"In the case of the dog-meat trade, the industry operates without any oversight and [with] many illegal components," Ms. O'Meara countered. "The industry is riddled with intense cruelty from transport in crowded wire cages, exposed to all of the elements with no food, water, or rest given. Many die in transit but for those that survive, they endure a horrific slaughter."

Before and during the event, dogs transported for sale and slaughter are stuffed into crowded, rusty cages. Many are emaciated, sick or already dead. The killing of dogs that survive transport routinely involves additional torture as they may be bludgeoned to death, have their throats slit, or be skinned or burned alive.

The dogs are taken from the streets, but some are found with collars, microchips, clothing, or showing behaviors indicative of having been a pet.

HSI and its Chinese partners were able to intercept a truck carrying hundreds of dogs to Yulin, close a slaughterhouse for a day to rescue the 54 animals there, and help rescue and transport 120 more dogs out of the city, Ms. O'Meara said.

The California-based Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, which partners with HSI, reported it has rescued more than 1,000 dogs after making deals with the owners of six slaughterhouses and shutting them down. …

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